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The Conners' Lecy Goranson On The Show's Success And Her Character's Ups And Downs - Exclusive Interview

Lecy Goranson is no stranger to characters with blue-collar hardships. As Becky, the first child of Roseanne and Dan Conner, she's had more than her fair share of difficulties. Not only did Becky marry her husband Mark instead of going to college, but she also lost Mark, and due to her grief, spent the next years living at the bottom of a liquor bottle — and all that happened before "The Conners" even started.

Goranson was one of two actors to bring Becky to life on "Roseanne," the precursor to "The Conners." She originated the character in 1988, and Sarah Chalke took over the role when Goranson went to college. Goranson returned for some episodes in Season 8; Chalke took over again in Season 9. But when "Roseanne" was revived over 20 years later in 2018, Goranson was on board to continue as Becky, and still was when, after one season, "Roseanne" was canceled due to some upsetting remarks by lead Roseanne Barr and replaced by "The Conners."

Now, after almost five seasons of "The Conners," Becky has a young daughter, is going to college for psychology, has beaten her alcohol addiction, and is working at the Lunch Box. In an exclusive interview with Looper, Goranson spoke about why her job in "The Conners" means so much to her, assessed where her character has been, and teased where her character is about to go.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Returning to Becky

"The Connors" has been so successful, even though it's a number of years later and without Roseanne. What has the level of success meant to you?

I don't think about it that much. I'm grateful for it. When I was a kid and I first got the show, I knew that the producers had produced "The Cosby Show" and "A Different World" and some very successful shows at the time. But I had no idea whether it was going to be a hit or something that I even liked, or whether it was going to be corny or whether it was going to be like 1950s saccharine. I was very pleasantly surprised that it had a grit to it — and it still does.

Instead of thinking about the success so much, I feel I love my job. I love the people I work with. I love, [as] an actor, getting a new script every week to do and to get new material every single week. As much as I love theater and I love to do the same thing every night too, you learn so much. It's great. I love working.

In the original show, you left and were replaced by Sarah Chalke for a time. What has that meant to you to come back and be embraced by fans the way you have?

It's wonderful. It was a weird thing when I was younger doing something that was for myself, knowing that it would upset people. Most of us don't live to hurt other people or upset other people, and it's not like it was a horrible betrayal. I went to college. It was a pretty minor thing for the most part, but people were still attached to the family, attached to the character. It was in our show, particularly, as you know ... There's a reflective quality of so many people saying, "That was me, I was Darlene, you were my sister, I was Becky, my sister was Darlene, my mother was like that." I hear this all the time still, so I felt bad that I left in that regard. But it's good to be back, and it's amazing that despite the tragedy and things that happened with Roseanne, people are still on board and still watch the show and still love our family.

Grappling with a hot-button issue

The show deals with a lot of hot-button issues in America, but in a light, fun way. In the next episode, it's about our phones. Have you ever had an instance where you regretted having a phone wherever you go?

Oh yeah — I've sent the wrong text to the wrong person. Nothing profound and crazy, but it's always so embarrassing when you do that. I was thinking today, it was so interesting, the fact that people now dictate to their phones, that everyone's talking to their phones; everyone's walking around and talking. I was thinking ... how is that affecting communication? It's more oral communication — are we going back to that? What does that mean for writing? We're talking about AI things ... It's interesting.

For kids, this idea of something that you do that's frivolous and it never going away, or there always being a record of it, or there always being someone who will have some kind of picture or record ... It's actually really frightening how readily we engage with these things, let alone them getting all the information from us.

The incident that the show depicts has to do with Louise's negative opinion of Becky's parenting accidentally being sent to the family's text thread. Why does Becky care what Louise thinks?

That's a good question. There were some underlying emotions when Louise came into the picture. This is someone that Becky worked with and knew from that level of relationship. Part of it was, "This is my dad, and my dad wants us to leave." All the episodes last year, last season, were him saying, "I can't wait for these 40-year-old women to get out of the house." There's [something] that we do as people — it's like, "Oh, well, that's Louise. She came in and took my dad."

But I also think that Becky is very insecure about her parenting. That's another thread that's been going through ... "Am I doing a good job? Am I present enough for my kid? How do I balance having self-needs and being there for my child? How do I balance earning a living and being there for my child?" All of us, on some level — even if everyone has a stay-at-home mom or whatever — have issues around all of that.

'A little window into Becky'

Becky has had a hard time of it. She's had issues with alcoholism and one-night stands, but now she's got her life together. What has it been like for you to transition to the sober version of the character while still keeping things funny?

It's interesting because it's a full-circle thing. If people remember who watched the original show, Becky was kind of the straight man. She was the straight-A nerd, uptight, trying to be rebellious like most teenagers, but in a way that she's a nerd. She wanted to be cool; she wasn't. She dated some cute boys. We got a little window into Becky, kind of the dark side, and then we're like, "Oh, this is who she's always been."

She also seems to be low-key pining for her daughter's father. Even though she conceived her daughter with a one-night stand, the relationship ended up being much deeper. Will that be visited in more detail at some point this season?

Not really. Becky let Emilio go. She said, "I'm not in love with you, and I love you, but I'm not in love with you." He's a great father and she's so happy about that, but when Emilio got together with his current wife, he got married, so she got served divorce papers. It was more symbolic of, "Wait a second. This guy is moving forward in his life." Becky liked the attention that she got from him; she liked that he loved her. She liked that feeling. Now there's a little competition, especially with the parenting. "Who's this new woman who's seeing my daughter who's spending time with my daughter?"

Becky's (finally) a college student

Becky is also going to college for psychology. What does that mean to you?

It's great. It really is. When I initially left the show, I was convinced Becky was going to go to college. I thought that would be an automatic thing because she was an academic, she got good grades — and for some reason, Roseanne wanted her to get married and live in a trailer park and with Mark and whatever.

I always felt — and Becky always felt, I think — why did that happen? That's a plot in the show. Why did she get segued? Why did that path go a different way? She's so excited to be studying. It's hard for her, but she's so into it, and in a funny way, in a way that she wants to talk about it. She wants to tell everybody about it.

She over-identifies with being a student now. She feels like she's where she's always wanted to be, and God knows that there's enough with the Connors for someone who's interested in psychology.

At the same time, she's working at the Lunch Box, her aunt's restaurant. How is she dealing with being spread so thin between school, her young daughter, and her job?

That's the meat of what's been going on this season — how does she do this? Then there's this pressure with her relationship with Darlene, which has always been competitive. They're always butting heads, but now she's indebted to Darlene because she's living with her, so that's even worse. She's dependent on her because she needs the rent that she can have, so she's just living in it.

One thing that I like about the show is that some things are uncomfortable, and it's like in real life, there's no real solution. But as we've seen a couple episodes ago when Darlene and Ben are fighting and she's in between, she says, "Okay, everybody, I have boundaries. Stay in your lane. I don't have time for this." That's something that she has done consistently throughout this season.

That's powerful, too, because she needs to do it.

Yeah. Also ... when this season began, in terms of Beverly Rose's teacher, [Becky] was grappling [with], "Is this good teaching? Should Beverly Rose be quiet, or is she too aggressive?" and then saying to the teacher, "This is a boundary. This is what's acceptable for you and my daughter, and this is what isn't."

The '80s and '90s vs. today

The show has a lot of great class commentary, just like the '80s and '90s show did. Do you think that stuff is more pertinent now than it was even in the '80s and '90s?

That's a good question. Maybe it is. It's similar, but the economy is more like it was in the '80s, in a way. There was more of a big gap, and in between that big gap, there's a lot of people in between and just trying to get by. Living in New York, when I'm on the subway, I always think, "How do all these people live here? How do all of these people live in this city?"

You've had parts in movies, guest roles in other TV shows, roles in off-Broadway theater. What have you enjoyed the most?

If I've done a play, I'll want to do something else. I like mixing it up. I love doing theater — I can't wait to do it. But on my hiatuses, which are only four months, that is a lot of commitment every single day, and work on the show is a lot of commitment every single day. I don't want to do that while I'm working on the show, but I look forward to the time when I will be back on stage.

There's something about a sitcom that's theatrical in a way. Also, there's the production side, and you can earn a living. I like that there's an audience. I like that there's a fourth wall. It feels theatrical, and it also is great that the actors that I work with have had theater experience, and that's very wonderful. But I love everything. The only thing that I haven't really done is commercials, and I don't know if that's something that appeals to me.

Teasing what's next

Why do you think the role of Becky has been the thing that's resonated the most for people?

Because it's on television and it's over time. It's every week over time. There's something about a television show — it's in your living room, and they watched me grow up. Now they're watching me as an adult. It's a lot of Lecy time. It's a lot of getting to know Lecy. Everyone's watching this going on, [like], "I know. Here she is again."

Is there anything else you can tease about what we can expect from the rest of the show's season or perhaps next season?

I can tell you that there might be a potential love interest for Becky. It's very exciting, and it comes out of nowhere. I'm not going to tell you who it is, but it's someone very special who has also been around the entertainment world for a long time.

New episodes of "The Conners" air Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET.

This interview has been edited for clarity.